Citizens Whistle Blowers Forum Seeks Time-Bound Action, Freezing of Bank Accounts and FIR Against PricewaterhouseCoopers
Delhi-based Citizens Whistle Blowers Forum (CWBF), headed by Justice AP Shah, has reiterated its demand for time bound action by government authorities against PricewaterhouseCoopers India Pvt Ltd (PwC) for allegedly posing threat to national interests.
In a letter sent to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Finance Minister, the former chief justice of Delhi High Court, has requested time bound action by all authorities, freezing of all banks accounts of PwC and registering first information report (FIR) against all partners and directors of the audit firm.
"Given the reluctance of various authorities to take stern action against PwC for the blatant violations of extant laws and regulations and to ensure that public confidence is not eroded in the rule of law, we request you to urgently issue necessary instructions to ensure that the pending investigations by all the authorities are completed within 45 days, bank account of all PwC entities in India and of their partners are immediately frozen to ensure recovery of taxes, penalties and fines on account of funds illegally brought in to India and FIRs are registered forthwith against partners and directors of PwC found guilty of various violations including criminal acts as already established by ministry of corporate affairs (MCA) and registrar of companies (ROC)," the letter says.
In the letter, Justice Shah also pointed out how CWBF’s writings were vindicated by the Supreme Court judgement on 23 February 2018. He says, “The SC found PwC prima-facie guilty of various offences highlighted by us earlier and expressed concern over the reluctance of various authorities to investigate them. The SC directed the enforcement directorate (ED), Institute of Charted Accountants of India (ICAI) and Union of India (UOI) to complete their investigation in PwC within specified timeframe and suggest steps for effective enforcement thereof by the multi-national accounting firms in general.
“The vindication of our findings by the SC underlines significant contributions that whistle blowers can make in fighting corruption, highlighting tax evasion, reporting black money and money laundering. Meaningful utilisation of such resources by the government can help it to enforce the laws effectively, save considerable time and expense, which otherwise be spent by law enforcement agencies and help enhance corporate governance in general. This was recently demonstrated in the high profile case involving ICICI Bank. A whistleblower's complaint with specific inputs to the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) has helped ED, Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and other agencies to swiftly and effectively launch their investigations in the said case.”
"Regretfully, let alone complete their investigations in an objective and transparent manner within the time frame allowed, some authorities are yet to start the process and are only indulging in 'passing the buck'," CWBF added.
The Forum is headed by Justice Shah, with Senior Advocate Prashant Bhushan as its member secretary. Other members of the Forum include Prof Aruna Roy, former Finance Secretary EAS Sarma, Prof Jagdeep Chhokar, Admiral Lara Ramdas and Wajahat Habibullah, former Chief Election Commissioner.
Here is the letter sent by Justice AP Shah on behalf of CWBF…